I love my friends so much that when one of them decides to go vegan, caffeine and sugar-free AND teetotal for a whole entire month in the name of charity, I'm still friends with them. Sigh. It's hard hanging out with these kind-hearted people. (If you donate £20 you can have a poem written for you with your choice of theme!) I remember how difficult veganism was, so I was only pleased to invite them round for lunch.
I almost always default to Asian food anyway but even more so with veganism, as that's where it feels most versatile without losing as much flavour. You won't get far with trying to replicate a bacon sandwich, but these potstickers, packed full of vegetables with no meat in sight are (almost) as satisfying. I will freely admit that I eat too much meat - I think we probably all do - so I'm making a more concerted effort to get more vegetables in there. It just needs a little imagination.
Makes around 30
1 packet of white round dumpling skins (not wontons) - sometimes labelled gyoza, or make your own
1/2 a medium sized courgette, diced
3 sticks of celery, peeled and diced
100gr peas, freshly podded or thawed
1 inch of ginger, grated
3 cloves of garlic, minced finely
2 tbsp light soy sauce
120gr firm tofu, chopped finely
1 tbsp cooking oil
2 stalks of spring onion - whites minced and the greens finely sliced into rings
2 large shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated and minced
2 tbsp Chinkiang black vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp light soy
Heat 1 tbsp of cooking oil in a saucepan until it is shimmering. Add the garlic, ginger and celery and stir fry until softened. Add the courgette, tofu and soy sauce and cook on a medium heat, stirring constantly. Add the whites of the spring onion and cook for another 2 minutes. By this point the mixture should be quite dry, if not cook on a higher heat, still stirring.
Remove and leave to cool. Add the fresh or thawed peas and the greens of the spring onion. Add it to a blender or a food processor and pulse briefly until it has all been chopped finely.
Place a wrapper on the palm of your hand and add a teaspoon of the filling. Fold the dumpling, pleating as you go. (For step by step pictures, and a meatier filling my book, Chinatown Kitchen has it all.) Otherwise, here.
In a non-stick frying pan add the remaining 1 tbsp oil and heat on a medium heat until shimmering. Add the dumplings flat side down and fry for 3 - 4 minutes, checking that they're not burning. Add 50ml water and place the lid on so that they steam for 3 - 4 minutes. Remove the lid and, checking that the bottoms aren't burning, cook until the liquid has evaporated and you're left with a crisp bottom.
Mix the dipping sauce ingredients together and serve with the dumplings.